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Subject: First five player game of Commander 2013. rss

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Allen OConnor
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Date: 6/11/13

Player / Deck / Commander

Allen (me) / Evasive Manoeuvres / Derevi, Empyrial Tactician
Anthony / Power Hungry / shattergang brothers
Arin / Nature of the Beast / Marath
Matt Peers / Eternal Bargain / Oloro
Matt Brewer / Mind Seize / Jeleva

This session report concerns the new Commander 2013 set, five preconstructed 100 card decks, each with three oversized Commander cards. The game is based on a fan made variant known Elder Dragon Highlander (EDH), which focuses on a longer multiplayer game with an emphasis on player interaction and humour. Back in 2011, there was a previous Commander release of five decks; between the two sets, all ten three colour combinations are present. My gaming group and I have played the original Commander sets to death over the last two years; it has probably been the most fun that I have had with Magic: The Gathering.
To give you an idea of people's skill levels, Brewer played Magic a lot from in the beginning and is probably the best player in our group; Anthony and I have played Magic in the past and have a reasonable level of skill; Arin and Peers are fairly new to the game, and are still learning some of the intricacies of the game.
The game begun, in the way that Commander usually begins, slowly and peacefully. Brewer played Jeleva for the first time, and immediately my curse of predation was taken from me. I was really looking forward to playing that card, and it was exiled from the game. Brewer then had a bit of a combo going, with Jeleva, an Echo Mage and a gutter snipe; this allowed him to play instants and sorcerys for free, then multiply them, and cause damage to every other player. People were starting to get pissed off with Brewer.
Arin managed to play a Baloth Woodcrasher and equip it with Swiftfire boots. He then pumped it with tokens from Marath and hit Anthony for 11 points of damage. After this, Brewer used Jeleva's ability to play a cruel ultimatum on Arin, leaving him with a single card in hand.
We were now quite far into the game, and after a wrath of god had been played, we were all without creatures and had between 21 sand 29 health. Peers had been slowly gaining life due to Oloro, but had also been slowly losing health due to having a lack of flying creatures.
Anthony managed to draw one of the other possible commanders, Prosh, and tried to play it; Brewer countered the spell. Anthony managed to get Prosh out of the graveyard and into his hand, he tried to play it again, Brewer countered again.
Everyone built a formidable collection of big creatures, and the game slowed down into a stalemate. Luckily a Savage twister wiped the board and got the game back up to speed.
Brewer kept recasting Jeleva until she had a casting cost of 12, meaning that she had exiled a total of 40 cards from each player's library. To make things worse, Matt had his Swiftfire boots in play, giving Jeleva haste and hexproof as soon as she is played. The other players worked together to take Jeleva out of the game. Peers destroyed the Swiftfire boots, and Arin played Darksteel Mutation to turn Jeleva into an indestructible 0/1 beetle with no abilities. Jeleva was, for now, no longer a threat.
Three and a half hours in now, and all of our life totals were between 21 and 27. The game was fairly close. Brewer struggled to come back into the game after his Commander had been neutralised, and the other players ganged up on him, Peers delivering the final blow.
Players again built up a strong collection of creatures, this time with Peers playing Toxic Deluge, paying 12 life and clearing the board.
Arin declared that he wanted to kill Anthony, allowing Peers and I to quietly put ourselves in a favourable position. Arin weakened Anthony, then I finished him off. By this point I had gotten into quite a strong position. I had an Opal Palace in play and Derevi as my Commander, who would only ever cost a maximum of four mana to cast; the Opal Palace gave Derevi +1/+1 tokens when he came into play, based on the number of times that he had been cast. I found myself with a large collection of flying creatures that could be untapped upon inflicting damage to a player; and two players with a lack of flying creatures. I first took Arin out, then two turns later, I took Peers out, winning the game with eight life remaining.

1st - Allen
2nd - Peers
3rd - Arin
4th - Anthony
5th - Brewer

After my first play, I am really impressed with Commander 2013. It has all of the humour of the first release, and we never felt that one of the decks was over or under powered; though this may become clearer after a few games. My initial view is that this is a great release, and if you haven't picked it up yet, you should. The 2011 Commander decks became very scarce very quickly, and they were superb; for me, Commander 2013 adds some much needed variety to the game and gives me 10 decks to play from, rather than five. I'm looking forward to seeing how the first wave plays against the second. All in all, I am impressed with Commander 2013.


This is all ten of the Commander decks, from 2011 and 2013.




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Dan Owsen
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Nice review! I've only played a few games with a couple of the decks, but so far they have been fun and the decks seem well constructed (at least to a relatively new player to the format). I think Jeleva is definitely going to be hated on the most of all the new commanders. I feel like Derevi is very underrated.
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Todd Pytel
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mummykitty wrote:
I've only played a few games with a couple of the decks, but so far they have been fun and the decks seem well constructed (at least to a relatively new player to the format).

There's a lot of room for improvement in the decks, and not just by dumping more money into them. Several of them waffle between different strategies and could have been more focused even without more expensive cards. Oloro's deck, for example, can't quite figure out whether it wants to be a bleeder control deck or a deck focused on artifacts. Marath's deck sort of wants to be a Beast deck but then spends its rare slots on unsynergistic creatures (Eternal Dragon? Huh?). But still... if you see them as a starting point, they're an incredible value. Very few preconstructed Magic products come anywhere close to these, or the similarly excellent C11 precons. If WotC released them every year, I'd buy them all every year. And then I'd sink another $50 into each one to clean them up, and be happy about it. We get an absolute ton of play out of these.

Quote:
I think Jeleva is definitely going to be hated on the most of all the new commanders.

Depends on the game and the decks. For obvious reasons, Jeleva becomes more powerful with more players and better decks. In a 5P game against good decks, she'll probably get killed on sight. Of course, that only means she'll come back and get even scarier later. But I played a 4P game last week against the other precons and she did some scary stuff even there.

Quote:
I feel like Derevi is very underrated.

Not by regular EDH players, she's not. Derevi is pretty clearly the favorite of the new Commanders AFAICT.
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Allen OConnor
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To be honest, Derevi was my favourite when i first looked at the decks; I like Oloro too, but I think that he makes you a bit of a target.
 
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Todd Pytel
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van00uber wrote:
I had an Opal Palace in play and Derevi as my Commander, who would only ever cost a maximum of four mana to cast; the Opal Palace gave Derevi +1/+1 tokens when he came into play, based on the number of times that he had been cast.

Also, I didn't notice this on the first read, but this doesn't work the way you want it to. Opal Palace's counters are based on the number of times the Commander has been cast, meaning "cast as a spell". When you're putting Derevi into play using her (?) ability, you're activating an ability not "casting" her. (See comp rules 601.2 - you are not putting Derevi's card onto the stack in this case, only her activated ability.)

So in this deck, Opal Palace does very little for you. Wizards is throwing in a neat card to play with elsewhere. I might similarly argue that Opal Palace does little good for Oloro or Prossh, both of which have casting costs high enough that you'd rarely cast them more than two, maybe three, times a game. At best, Opal Palace lets you pay 1 to filter your mana, and that's not very compelling.
 
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Mark McEvoy
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At the very least, it's no worse than Shimmering Grotto / Unknown Shores. If your tricolor Commander deck was apt to run a Shimmering Grotto or Unknown Shores for mana fixing anyway, this is a strictly superior substitute.

 
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Todd Pytel
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thatmarkguy wrote:
At the very least, it's no worse than Shimmering Grotto / Unknown Shores.

Sure, but that's a pretty low bar. It doesn't take a very fancy manabase to run 3 colors in a casual EDH deck well enough to make Grotto/Palace more of a hindrance than a help. Typically, I'd run something like Command Tower, 3 M10/ISD checklands, 2-3 Guildgates, maybe a couple Vivids, and the rest basics. Throw in a couple rocks like Darksteel Ingot or Signets that you want for ramping anyway and that's usually good enough color-fixing for no more than $20. I think it's better in most cases to run another "enters tapped" dual or a Spire/Promenade than run Grotto/Palace filtering - I'd rather forego my 2 or 3 drop while I durdle with my lands than miss my 4/5/6 drop because I'm paying 1 to filter.

There are exceptions, of course. If a 3-color deck desperately wants to run a lot of spells with multiple colored mana in a single color, then I could see Grotto/Palace making sense. And clearly, if you do have a Commander that wants to be recast a lot (like Marath or Jeleva), the Palace's counters become a lot more useful.
 
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